stereotypes usefully represent real knowledge or merely reflect
counter-productive prejudice? We know that a disproportionate number of
criminals in the USA are black and that the vast majority of anti-Western
terrorists are Muslim. In light of these facts, racial profiling (a sub-species
of stereotyping) appears to be a rational and ethically justified act of
self-defense. But is this a “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy? In other
words: does racial profiling cause the very ills it is intended to counter?
Stereotypes invariably refer
in a generalized manner to - often arbitrary - groups of people, usually
minorities. Stereotypes need not necessarily be derogatory or cautionary,
though most of them are. The "noble savage" and the "wild savage"
are both stereotypes.